Last week, there was a news story on KVLY and many Facebook posts regarding Fergus Falls Public Schools’ practice of “stamping” students’ hands (who are in Kindergarten – Grade five) when their lunch balance was low.  Stamping hands as a reminder for a low lunch balance has been a long-term practice in our School District.  The procedure was developed at the request of parents who wanted a visual reminder. If you do not want your child’s hand stamped, please call the elementary school and inform the office.

In the national news, many School Districts are being accused of “shaming” students by taking away their meal when they do not have the funds to pay or making the student clean tables or chores. That is not Fergus Falls Public School’s practice.

It is the responsibility of the parent to ensure there are adequate funds in their child’s lunch account – as the School District does not allow lunches to be charged. In Minnesota, there is no charge for the student’s meal if they qualify for free or reduced-priced lunch based on the parent’s income.

Prior to the start of next school year, we will develop one consistent set of procedures for all of our elementary schools. Here are our current practices to notify parents when their child’s lunch account is low:

McKinley (K-first grade) – When there are enough funds for only one meal, a note is sent home.  If the parent does not put funds in the account by the next day, a stamp is put on the student’s hand and a call is made to their home.

Adams (Grades first-second) – When $5 is left in the student’s account, a stamp is placed on the student’s hand.  If no funds are deposited by the next day, another stamp is used and a letter is sent home. If the parent is not responding, a call is made to their home.

Cleveland (Grade third-fifth) – When $6 is left in the student’s account, the students are asked if they want a stamp or can remember to tell their parents they need lunch funds.  The majority of our students request the stamp.  When the funds are at $0, notes, emails and calls are made to the parent.

Electronic Notification

Many parents are taking advantage of an email notification through PowerSchool.

The details to set up an email notification when your lunch account is at $10 or below is found on our website – www.isd544.org.

Parents own their child’s lunch account funds. At the end of the school year, any remaining funds will carry over to the following year.  If your child is graduating or if you are moving, please inform the office and you will be reimbursed for the unused funds.  Also, please contact your child’s school office if you have any questions.

The Fergus Falls Public Schools is continually working to improve communication and service to our parents.  If you have suggestions, please contact my office at 218.998.0544 x 9010 or email me at jness@fergusotters.org

Spring Theater – Arsenic and Old Lace, May 19-21

This spring our theater department is performing the classic “Arsenic and Old Lace.”

The 14 cast members (plus crew) have been working hard to perfect their sarcasm and craft for the audience. The play is a farcical, black comedy revolving around the Brewster family. “Arsenic and Old Lace” is being performed on May 19-20 at 7 p.m. and May 21 at 2 p.m. at A Center for the Arts. Tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for students.

Jerry Ness is the superintendent of Fergus Falls Public Schools. His column appears every Wednesday.

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